Mark, a nurse, befriends his elderly neighbour by helping her with her yard work and her banking. Under the guise of paying bills, Mark writes cheques to himself for several thousand dollars. A colleague learns of his actions and reports him to the college.
Nikki’s personal Twitter profile identifies her as a nurse. In a response to a tweet, Nikki posts a series of racist and derogatory comments, which are retweeted by others. A member of the public, shocked and upset by the content, contacts the college.
Both situations occurred outside of the nurses’ practice and are not directly related to their work. However, their actions have the potential to negatively impact both the public’s perception of them and trust in the nursing profession. These behaviours could be considered “unprofessional conduct” under the Health Professions Act.
Unprofessional conduct includes unacceptable behaviour that takes place outside your nursing practice.
Since everyone's life is unique, there’s no simple rule of thumb to follow. Instead, you’re encouraged to use your best judgment and carefully consider any behaviour that may impact your personal and professional image. It’s not uncommon for people in our social networks to know what we do for a living.
While you may think what occurs outside of work is your personal business, you must be aware of your behavior and how it can affect how you’re seen as a professional. That said, unprofessional conduct is something that you need to be aware of—but generally not worried about—as long as you behave ethically and within the law.
BCCNM exists to protect the public. We recognize that it’s not appropriate to regulate and discipline all conduct that occurs outside your nursing practice. However, if your conduct threatens the public or their perception of the profession, the college is justified in investigating. This can lead to a finding of unprofessional conduct with consequences determined on a case-by-case basis by BCCNM.
Take a look at the
professional conduct review process overview.
Thank you to the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba for allowing us to adapt their
Spring 2015 NurseLink article, Raising the bar: Am I a nurse 24/7?